Yesterday was just an amazing day all around. FINALLY! And I definitely learned a couple of things in the process. First of all, man I must have really been sick these past few weeks. It is amazing how much better I feel now compared to just last weekend. Being able to fully breathe again without the overall feeling of exhaustion all of the time just makes everything so much easier. Not to mention I am not running around sounding like a two pack a day smoker all the time either.
The run, while not fast by any stretch was steady, consistent and strong throughout. I started off slow keeping in mind it was a training run and maintained that level of effort through the day. My goals were to cover some miles, get in a lot of time on my feet, massive elevation gains and spend as much time above 10,000 feet as I could. All of these were met successfully.
Originally the plan was to summit the peak then drop down to the Crags then back up and over. Once at the top though the winds made going down the back slope almost impossible. No problem I had a plan b that I had concocted earlier in the week which was to drop back down the east side of the Peak to Barr Camp, head out towards Elk Park then come back the same way to Barr Camp then drop on down to to Manitou. While I didn't get to do the double crossing, this was a great run and being able to hit Barr Camp every six or seven miles or so to top off water bottles etc, really made it easier.
|Manitou at 5:00 a.m. Perfectly still.|
I could tell in the dark that morning that it was extremely hazy out. What I didn't realize was that it was actually smoke. The wind hadn't really picked up yet so the smoke remained thick throughout most of the morning.
|You can see the sun burning through the smoke as it was rising.|
My first real landmark when climbing Barr Trail is this rock and tree which has been there for a long as I can remember and by that I mean the 90's. I call it Sasquatch Rock cause at low light when you first see it, it appears to be a Sasquatch peering down as a sentinel on the trail. Someday I hope to see a real one still...
The haze from the fires and smoke persisted throughout the morning. At times the peak was hard to see.
|One of the best views of the summit from the trail.|
Above Barr Camp it is obvious that spring has not arrived to higher regions of the mountain yet. These aspens have yet to bud and leaf out.
|No aspen leaves yet.|
Once above treline is was impossible to see Colorado Springs which was kind of neat in a way. It made it seem like I could be on any mountaintop anywhere else in the world instead of just miles from the city. Also as I got higher, there was more ice on the trail and I mean large sheets of ice.
|Lots of ice on the trail like this. The funny thing is that i see ice up there regardless of the time of the year, even in July.|
After making the summit and deciding to bail down the east side it was nice to be out of the wind. It was blowing so hard that just under the summit where it blocked the wind coming out of the SW, it seriously sounded like a jet roaring overhead. I had no doubts that I made the right decision.
The run out to Elk Park was almost disturbingly clear for this time of the year/early in the season. Where the creek flowing out of Ghost Town Hollow is usually out of its banks and you are forced to wade across or jump from clump of dry ground to another it was more that easily fordable across the small log bridge.
The effort then up to Elk Park was just a steady grind like usual with the trip after that back to Barr Camp seeming to take a lot of time as well. When I made my final stop at Barr Camp to top off one water bottle, I got a Pepsi and sat in the rocking chair and relaxed a bit. I only had 7.5 miles to go back down the trail to the Jeep at Memorial Park but it seemed like a really long way especially knowing that it would get warmer the further down the trail I descended.
With only about four miles left I had a quick check-in with Melissa on the phone and I started running again. Even with 30+ miles under my belt for the day I was amazed at just how great everything felt. Sure I was tired, no doubt but damn it if I didn't feel stronger. I was also moving at a pace that surprised me but then again, the lower I got, with more oxygen, it was almost effortless. Again, I contemplated how shitty I felt when I was sick most of the month to how well I felt yesterday and the contrast was startling.
I am not feeling too trashed today so I will do some miles, easy effort to finish out the week. All in all I have to say that my confidence is really starting to shoot up. I don't have my speed back but I know that it will come back especially given how well a day like yesterday went. Sub 12 in the San Juan Solstice while still not highly probable, definitely seems more possible to me today.
from Saturday. Manitou to the summit. Back down to Barr Camp. Out to
Elk Park, then all the way out and back down to Manitou. 38.17 miles
13,843 feet in total elevation gain.|
All of this was followed by a great dinner out downtown and wonderful night's stay at the Antler's to get away. How is that for the first half of a three day weekend?!
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